What to Do in Normandy in 2023

Normandy is always a popular destination to visit thanks to its fascinating history, lush landscapes, picturesque villages, and unique regional cuisine. The proximity to Paris makes it easy to access and a perfect addition or extension to any trip. Read on for French Side Travel’s guide of what to do in Normandy in 2023 to discover the best of this spectacular region.


What to Do in Normandy in 2023

Visit the Powerful World War II D-Day Landing Beaches and Memorials

what do in normandy 2023 dday landing beaches

Year after year, one of our top recommendations in Normandy is to visit the iconic D-Day beaches where thousands of troops gave their lives to liberate France from German-occupation during World War II. French Side Travel can arrange private guided single or multi-day tours that focus on the American, British, or Canadian sectors.

Discover the moving sites that hosted the pivotal battles and pay respects to the brave men and women who lost their lives. The moving and solemn American cemetery in Colleville-sur-Mer is a powerful place of remembrance. On Pointe du Hoc, between the Omaha and Utah beaches, the US rangers heroically captured German artillery. The rugged cliffs are largely untouched with bomb craters, bunkers and casements still visible. A visit to these D-Day landing beaches and memorials is always an impactful highlight for travelers.

étretat cliffs normandy

Private Helicopter Flight Over the Étretat Cliffs

From Deauville Saint Gatien airport take off for the cliffs of Étretat. After flying over the Estuary between Honfleur and Le Havre, you will fly along Port 2000, then the coast, until you see the breathtaking cliffs.

These gigantic white chalk cliffs are classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Impressionist painters were inspired by them and writer Maurice Leblanc used them as a setting for the intrigues of his famous gentleman burglar, Arsène Lupin. The Arche d’Aval, 80 meters high, has a singular shape due to nature and marine erosion. The famous Aiguille (needle) measures about 55 meters high and is always a highlight of the beautiful flight.

Discover the Mythical Mont-Saint-Michel

mont saint michel what to do in normandy in 2023

Mont-Saint-Michel is one of France’s emblematic sites. In fact, it’s one of the most-visited places in France with almost 2.5 million visitors per year. On approach, the 10th century Benedictine abbey almost doesn’t look real, seemingly rising out of the surrounding bay. Connected to the mainland by a tidal causeway, the dramatic rising and falling tides turned the rock into an island.

The abbey has been an important pilgrimage site for centuries. Tides permitting, it’s possible to follow in the pilgrims footsteps with a private guide and walk across the sandy bay to Mont-Saint-Michel. Once you arrive, take your time exploring the quaint streets lined with charming shops that wind uphill towards the abbey.

Visit the Charming Towns Along the Côte Fleurie

deauville in normandy

No list of what to do in Normandy in 2023 would be complete without a visit to the coast. The coastal resorts east of Caen are often referred to as the Côte Fleurie (Floral Coast). In the 19th century, a train line opened from Paris to Calvados and wealthy Parisians quickly arrived and built luxurious hotels and mansions.

The towns of Deauville and Trouville are the most famous resort towns here. Each has numerous attractive examples of Belle Époque architecture and famous sandy beaches. Other popular resort towns for summer visitors include Cabourg and Houlgate.

French Side Travel always recommends a visit to the coastal town of Honfleur. The striking harbor surrounded by historic buildings is among the most beautiful in all of France.

Recent Hotel Opening in Normandy

hotel saint delis honfleur

Hôtel Saint-Delis

Nestled in the heart of Honfleur’s historic district in Normandy and just two hours from Paris, this luxury 5-star hotel with a discreet charm is an essential part of the city’s arts and historical heritage.

Every room overlooks beautiful gardens and provides a variety of views in an intimate and personalized setting. Bedrooms are elegantly furnished and have magnificent, comfortable bathrooms. The beauty of marble and mirrors combines to create a luxurious and contemporary atmosphere.

All the rooms are equipped with modern amenities: each room has a shower hammam and the Deluxe and Junior suites have a spa bath as well. Guests can also enjoy services such as horse carriage rides, massage therapy, and painting lessons. There are also facilities for child care.

Guests will also be able to savor dishes made from local ingredients and inspired by Saint-Siméon collection restaurants for the best culinary experiences, in the restaurant of Ferme Saint Siméon. This is an ideal place for a family stay or a weekend of relaxation, as well as a vast array of activities that will delight young and old alike.

Indulge in a Gourmet Experience in the Pays d’Auge

camembert cheese

Normandy is known for having fabulous foods: fresh seafood, cheeses, creams, and apples all top the list. Take a day to discover a few of these regional specialties with a cheesemaking and cider brewing tour. You’ll meet one of the last remaining Camembert farmers in Camembert and learn all about the production process. There will be tastings involved as well!

For lunch, stop for a picnic in one of the most picturesque villages in all of France. You’ll get to try even more of the products that Normandy is renowned for: seasonal salads, andouille, butter, cheeses, and finish with teurgoule, a famous rice pudding, all paired with ciders. To finish the day, you’ll delve into the process of cider brewing at some of the best distilleries in the area.

Visit Claude Monet’s Home and Garden in Giverny

what to do in normandy in 2023 giverny

Fans of art, architecture and gardens will not want to miss Giverny, where Claude Monet lived for 43 years. The garden boasts a stunning array of flowers and willow trees. You’ll see the very pond that inspired Monet to paint the famous Water Lilies. Monet was a gardener as well as an artist. He grew the flowers himself, arranging his gardens by using his creative eye. The small green bridge, peony bushes and bamboo plants all demonstrate the love Monet had for Japan.

Visit Monet’s charming pink house and discover the interiors that are true to what they looked like when Monet lived there. You can visit the fabulous kitchen, Monet’s studio, the dining room, reading room, and bedrooms. Spring is an especially lovely time to visit, but the house and gardens are open from April through October.

Recent Hotel Opening in Normandy

domaine de primard

Domaine de Primard

Just under an hour west of Paris, not far from Giverny, lies this stunningly well-preserved 18th-century Directoire-style house. Until recently it was the private home of legendary French actress Catherine Deneuve.

Domaine de Primard is now a 40 room 5-star luxury hotel complete with a fabulous restaurant and the first Susanne Kaufmann spa in France.

The estate’s gastronomic restaurant makes extensive use of produce grown in the hotel’s own gardens. There is also a bistro, set on a terrace surrounded by fruit trees, that presents a slightly more casual take of the same vision.

Guests can relax in the heated outdoor pool or take advantage of the ample opportunity for walking and hiking, horseback riding, and the highly regarded Robert Hersant golf course.


We hope this list of what to do in Normandy in 2023 will help inspire future travel to this wonderful region. We would love to help you plan a dream trip to France in the coming year with a custom itinerary. Some of our favorite destinations in France include Bordeaux, the South of France, the Loire Valley and Paris. Get in touch with a travel designer today to start the planning process!

Spring Break in France: Our Top Destinations

Spring Break is a popular time to visit France. Mild temperatures, blooming flowers, and fewer crowds than during the summer are just a few of the reasons why it’s a great time to travel. French Side Travel is sharing our top destinations for spending a Spring Break in France that will be a hit with the entire family.


Spring Break in France: Our Top Destinations

Paris

spring break in france paris

Visiting Paris in the spring really is as wonderful as it sounds. To see the city covered with blooming flowers in various shades of pinks will make you feel like you are living la vie en rose. A spring break trip to Paris will please the whole family thanks to the large number of different museums, tours, and activities.

Please the history buff with private guided tours to museums. French Side Travel can arrange an exclusive visit to the Louvre where you will be welcomed by the head of a department in the museum and accompanied by a security guard throughout your visit to facilitate access.

We can also arrange a special VIP tour at the Château de Versailles. You will discover the classic Versailles experience covering the most famous parts of the Palace: the Chapel, the Hall of Mirrors, the Queen’s apartment and the gardens. You will also have private and VIP access to places that are not accessible to regular visitors, including the Louis XV and Louis XVI apartments.

For an authentic look into the French art de vivre, don’t miss a market visit, cooking class, and lunch or dinner. You’ll get to go to a local Parisian market and shop for the ingredients to prepare your meal. You’ll learn about the specific Parisian market culture, seasonal produce, and food in France. Afterwards, you’ll return to the cooking school to practice both basic and advanced French cooking techniques while creating a three-course meal. Finally, you’ll sit around the table to savor your creations with wine, and hear stories all about French culture and gastronomy. It’s truly a unique experience!

Where to Stay in Paris

spring break in france cour des vosges paris

Cour des Vosges

This landmarked 17th-century mansion converted into a 5-star hotel is located in the district of Marais and overlooks the oldest square in Paris, Place des Vosges.

The hotel filled with history with a grand staircase, painted ceilings, Renaissance grandeur, and unique decor in shades of blue and pink pastels for an ethereal and mysterious feel. The style of the period has been updated and iconic pieces from the 70s blend into its exceptional decor.

The rooms, designed in an elegant decor, are beautifully furnished with ceramics, sculptures, and tapestries. Each of the 12 rooms offers magnificent view of the Place des Vosges.

The restaurant offers light gourmet afternoon tea and dinner. The patisserie corner also presents a selection of sweet treats concocted by an award winning pastry chef.

To relax and rejuvenate, the Roman Baths inspire tranquility and confidential serenity. Special skin and facial treatments, and back massages in a candlelit setting are also available.

Normandy

honfleur spring break in france

Whether you have several days to dedicate to the region or just want to take a day trip, Normandy is a fabulous Spring Break option. Visit the charming coastal towns like Honfleur, Deauville, and Trouville and indulge in the delicious local seafood. The half-timbered architecture is picturesque.

Take a full day to see the profound and impactful World War II D-Day landing beaches and memorials. There are both private and shared tour options that depart from Paris daily, or you could spend the night in an authentic château just outside of Bayeux.

Mont-Saint-Michel is one of the most popular places in France to visit. It seemingly rises out of the surrounding bay. Climb to the top for a tour of the Abbey and incredible views. You can even spend the night on Mont-Saint-Michel to experience the magic without crowds.

Bordeaux

arcachon

In just two and a half hours via a high speed train from Paris, you can be worlds away in beautiful Bordeaux. Explore the lovely city with its rich history and allure. We recommend discovering Bordeaux with a gourmet walking tour – you’ll see all of the fabulous highlights as well as sample some of the region’s specialty foods and of course taste wines.

The city of Bordeaux is also a great base for exploring the surrounding countryside. Take day trips to renowned wine regions like the Médoc or Saint-Émilion. Or head west towards the Atlantic to discover the picturesque beaches of Arcachon. Visit the Dune de Pilat, which is the tallest sand dune in Europe. You can spend a lovely Spring Break day on a boat exploring the Arcachon Bay, and even visiting with an oyster farmer for a tasting.

Provence

saint remy

For art, wine, and culture lovers, Provence is a must. Spring Break is a wonderful time to visit before the crowds set in – the area truly feels untouched. Enjoy the relaxing place with great weather, incredible history, and a fantastic art legacy.

Nestled between the sea and mountains, Van Gogh and Cézanne immortalized Provence’s beauty on canvas. Throughout the year you’ll find striking colors: azure skies, bright pastel facades, and deep purple lavender fields and vibrant yellow sunflowers in the summer.

Wine fanatics can’t miss the powerful Côte-du-Rhône reds and the refreshing Aix-en-Provence rosés. History buffs should explore the exceptional Roman ruins in Arles and Saint-Remy, and the Gothic Palais des Papes in Avignon. You’ll want to spend as much time outdoors as possible during your stay!

Where to Stay in Provence

La Villa Gallici

Located in Aix-en-Provence this beautiful 5-star hotel is just a few minutes by walk from the historic center. The elegant design with antique furniture, ornate woodwork, and rich fabrics are a reminder of antiquated days.

There are 23 rooms and suites. The rooms and suites are large, modernly equipped, and offer garden views. Some rooms have a terrace.

The hotel’s restaurant offers a gourmet experience. Enjoy seasonal Provençal cuisine under the shade of plane trees. Meticulously prepared by the chef and his team, the dishes are creatively combined with Mediterranean flavors. The discreet service ensures a unique experience for the guests.

Visit the spa and wellness area which offers in-room treatments, a sauna, Jacuzzi, cryotherapy, a tanning cabin, fitness, and a heated outdoor pool.


We hope this list of French Side Travel’s top Spring Break destinations to visit will help inspire a future trip. We would love to help you plan a dream trip to France in the coming year with a custom itinerary. Some of our favorite regions in France include Bordeaux, the South of France, Normandy, and Paris. Get in touch with a travel designer today to start the planning process!

What to Do in Paris in 2023

There’s certainly never a shortage of things to see in the City of Light. As the list is ever-growing, French Side Travel is staying on top of the best of the best activities, tours, and accommodations to make your stay spectacular. Read on to discover our list of what to do in Paris in 2023.


What to Do in Paris in 2023

Check In at a New Hotel

Treat yourself to an exceptional experience with a stay at one of Paris’ best hotels. In France, only a few of the top 5-star hotels are awarded Palace status, which is a distinction awarded to those offering the highest levels of service to their clients. Paris is home to several of the best Palace hotels in the country.

La Réserve

la reserve hotel

La Réserve is a palace hotel housed in a mansion that dates from 1854. Behind its ruby-red doors, it offers guests a world of Haussmann charm. Rooms have stunning views of Paris’s finest landmarks. The elegant and stylish decoration illustrates the mansion’s Belle Époque history.

The hotel has 26 suites and 14 rooms that seamlessly combine tradition with modern technology – think pastel tones, Carrara marble bathrooms, a Devon & Devon silver bathtub together with underfloor heating, screens integrated into the mirrors, and an interactive tablet (with a special button to call your butler) – that all provide exceptional comfort for the prestigious clientele. La Réserve is the first palace hotel to offer a personal butler service for every room. This special attention makes guests feel as though they are staying in a private home.

Away from the hustle and bustle of the world’s most beautiful avenue, this discrete and spacious establishment also has a private library and a smoking room. Other exclusive amenities include a gym with a personal trainer, a spa with Nescens-Swiss products, and an indoor pool. Awarded two Michelin stars after only one year, the chef translated the excellence of the place into the cuisine. The restaurant serves contemporary French cuisine with Asian influences.

Hôtel Lutetia

hotel lutetia what to do in paris in 2023

This luxury palace hotel is the only one located on the city’s Left Bank and is an iconic landmark situated in the vibrant Saint-Germain-des-Prés area. Originally opened in 1910, the building’s design was a daring move from Art Nouveau to the emerging style of Art Deco. Inside, the interiors might remind you of being on a yacht.

The hotel’s 184 rooms are equipped with the latest amenities, includidng lighting and curtains are controlled by small wall-mounted tablets. Art Deco furnishings are embellished with Murano glass light fixtures, Hermès jacquard cushions and plush, deep-pile rugs.

The hotel boasts a brasserie with two-level dining area, along with outdoor tables and terraces, in their original 1910 decor. It is a place where guests can discover a menu that mixes the traditional and the modern. The bar, with its long bay windows and regular live jazz, offers an elegant setting and sophisticated cocktail blends.

Unique in the neighborhood, the holistic spa center is dedicated to the guest’s well-being and fitness and it also features a 17 meter swimming pool bathed in natural daylight.

Take an Exclusive Cruise Along the Seine River

what to do in paris in 2023

Indulge in a tailor-made private cruise down the most beautiful waterway in the world, the Seine River. You’ll see many of Paris’ most stunning museums and landmarks from an unparalleled perspective. Your boat is a luxurious Venetian water taxi, custom-built for the Seine River in Venice. It features a private salon with a leather banquette, tinted windows, and a roof that can be open or closed. Enjoy a bottle of Champagne during your memorable and romantic journey in Paris.

If you prefer a lunch or dinner along the Seine, a cruise aboard the Ducasse sur Seine boat is an experience like no other. The electric boat glides in silence along the river. All food is prepared on board, giving guests the opportunity to enjoy the freshest, most delicious food possible in true Ducasse style. Between courses be sure to take an opportunity to walk outside and soak in the views. It’s truly a once in a lifetime meal in Paris!

Enjoy Unique Shopping Opportunities

shopping in paris

Whether you’re interested in fashion, jewelry, or the storied history of the world-renowned designers in Paris, French Side Travel has an experience for you.

The French capital is home to some of the world’s most prestigious jewelry designers and houses who draw from hundreds of years of expertise and savoir faire to create truly unforgettable pieces. During your exclusive shopping experience, a stylist will arrange visits in private jewelry salons to help you find that something extraordinary.

If you’re more interested in fashion history, take a private guided Haute Couture walk on Avenue Montaigne. You’ll trace the history of the most chic avenue in Paris step by step. One of the stories you’ll learn about is Christian Dior’s, who set up shop in 1947 at 30 Avenue Montaigne. The couturier undoubtedly contributed to the international reputation of Avenue Montaigne thanks to his legendary boutique.

For a very VIP experience, French Side Travel can privatize the boutique of one of the most prestigious brands in Paris. Think Chanel, Dior, Louis Vuitton, and more. This is truly a once in a lifetime shopping experience in Paris!

Indulge in a Foodie Experience

what to do in paris foodie experience

Our list of what to do in Paris in 2023 wouldn’t be complete without a food experience. Whether you’re interested in chocolate, cheese, Champagne, or food markets there is surely a food tour that will please. Discover a French Side Travel favorite: a private guided tour of French Chef’s shops in Paris. Guests will discover the best pastries in Paris and the latest sweet trends from Pierre Hermé, Christophe Michalak, Thierry Marx or Philippe Conticini. You of course will taste their “signature” recipes, a mix between culinary tradition and innovation. During this food tour in Paris you will enter in some Meilleurs Ouvriers de France’s shops.

le grand controle

The Feast by Alain Ducasse

Experience Versailles Like Never Before with an Exceptional 12-Course Meal

Have you ever dreamed of living a sumptuous evening like a French King? From the menu to the waiters’ attire and the setting to the tableware, everything comes together to make a dinner in the Ducasse salons at the Château de Versailles an experience.

Alain Ducasse carried out careful research and took his inspiration from 18th century menus, yet took a contemporary interpretation of the cuisine. Beyond dinner, it is a genuine experience. Be ready to be amazed by the traditional à la française service, menu inspired by the court with contemporary flavors, tableware from the ancient royal manufacture of Limoges re-edited by Bernardaud, and staff in tailor-made outfits inspired by the 18th century.


We hope this list of what to do in Paris in 2023 will help inspire future travel to the City of Light. We would love to help you plan a dream trip to France in the coming year with a custom itinerary. Some of our favorite destinations in France include Normandy, Bordeaux, the South of France, the Loire Valley and Paris. Get in touch with a travel designer today to start the planning process!

Top France Travel Destinations in 2023

With the arrival of 2023, now is the time to start thinking about and planning a trip to France. Our travel designers have already been hard at work planning fabulous tailor-made trips throughout France for this year. We’re sharing some of the top France travel destinations in 2023 that we hope will inspire you. Read on to discover more about Normandy, Paris, the Loire Valley, Bordeaux, the South of France and more.


Top France Travel Destinations in 2023

Normandy

top france travel destination 2022 normandy honfleur

Not far from Paris, there’s a reason why Normandy is consistently a top France travel destination. All along the coast visitors can enjoy wonderful seafood in picturesque seaside towns. The interior of the region boasts fertile green pastures yielding delicious creamy cheeses, crisp ciders, and fiery Calvados apple brandy.

Travelers won’t want to miss the natural beauty of the dramatic cliffs and wild seaside, specifically the striking Étretat, charming towns by the water like Honfleur and Deauville, the emblematic Mont Saint-Michel, and the powerful D-Day landing beaches and memorials. On the way to or from Paris, a stop at Claude Monet’s Gardens in Giverny are always a favorite.

Paris

paris café

It’s hard to come to France and not make a stop in Paris. This bustling hub of art and culture is filled with iconic landmarks that include the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, and Notre Dame Cathedral. Whether it’s your first or 20th trip, you’ll want to spend at least a day wandering around the picturesque streets. Part of the charm of Paris is stopping along the way at quaint cafés and charming boutiques. Visit the masterpieces in the Musée du Louvre and Musée d’Orsay and don’t miss an interactive sound and light show at the Atelier des Lumières. An all-time favorite Paris activity is taking a boat ride down the Seine after the sun sets to take in the twinkling Eiffel Tower. Afterwards, you’ll truly understand why it’s called the City of Light!

There’s something for everyone in Paris, whether you’re interested in history, fashion, cooking, art, food and wine, architecture, art, and beyond!

pavillon faubourg saint germain

New Hotel Opening in Paris: Pavillon Faubourg Saint Germain

This newly renovated 5-star hotel, formerly a favorite place for artists in the 20th century, welcomes you with its warm and comfortable ambiance. Backed by strong history yet still modern, this is a perfect hotel for you to discover the city of light.

The rooms are elegantly designed in harmony with modernity. They are spacious, luxurious and perfectly equipped. Indulge in absolute relaxation and unwind in the lounge bar nestled near the beautiful stone fireplace. The hotel’s attached restaurant serves delicious brasserie dishes made from fresh and seasonal produce. Savor a plethora of culinary delights! Experience the ultimate in well-being and forget the hustle and bustle of the city with the wide range of spa services.

Loire Valley

château de villandry

For fabulous French castles, stunning scenery, and delicious wines don’t miss the Garden of France, located just a couple hours drive southwest of Paris. This area was a battleground during the Hundred Years War before becoming a retreat for French royalty in the 15th and 16th centuries. Châteaux (castles) span the entire region. Chenonceau, Chambord, and Amboise are the first châteaux that most visitors see, but many others are worthwhile (you can see French Side Travel’s Top 10 Loire Valley Châteaux here). Having access to a car is a must in this region. We recommend letting an expert driver/guide show you the ins and outs of the Loire Valley.

relais de chambord hotel

A Unique Stay in the Loire Valley: Relais de Chambord

Located in Chambord, a four minute walk from the château, this refined 4-star boutique hotel designed by Jean-Michel Wilmotte is situated in an unrivaled location. With captivating views around almost every turn, you’ll get to know each spire of the castle’s famous rooftop skyline.

The stylish rooms are full of natural light. Every room is unique, so you will find each one slightly different in a charming and individual way. Some rooms offer a view of the Château de Chambord, while others overlook the Cosson River, Place Saint-Louis or the forest.

Bordeaux

top france travel destination 2022 bordeaux arcachon

While it’s best-known for its fine wine, charming Bordeaux has a lot to offer beyond grapes and wine tastings. Its architecture, with spacious avenues and alluring classical facades, begs exploring. The city is low-key and friendly, with a fabulous food scene and great shopping. Try the canelés, a small rum and vanilla-flavored pastry with a caramel crust.

Wine-aficionados will come here to visit the world-famous châteaux in the countryside. Be sure to visit the tranquil Arcachon Bay, which emerged as a luxury retreat for Bordeaux’s rich in the 19th century. The elegant Belle Époque villas, rejuvenating spas, and expansive golden sandy beaches make it a favorite of the French. The largest sand dune in Europe, the Dune de Pilat, is an impressive site with even better views from the top. You can even visit an oyster farm to sample some of the best oysters in France!

Provence

top france travel destination 2022 provence

Provence of course makes the list of top travel destination in France for 2023. It oozes charm that most people only dream about. Nestled between sea and mountains, its striking colors range from azure sky to bright pastel facades and deep purple lavender fields to vibrant yellow sunflowers. In the summer cicadas melodically buzz in the background. Wine lovers can’t miss the powerful Côtes-du-Rhône reds and the refreshing Coteaux-d’Aix-en-Provence rosés. History buffs should make time to explore the exceptional Roman ruins and the Gothic Palais des Papes. Enjoy the relaxed pace of life with great weather, millennia of history, and a fantastic art scene.

villa la coste provence

Luxury, Art and Architecture in Provence: Villa La Coste

This Palace hotel set in the midst of the Provençal landscape, and in the heart of a biodynamic vineyard, is an international destination for art, architecture and natural beauty.

The property features 28 Villa Suites, surrounded by gardens, herbs and flowers. Each opens onto a spacious terrace offering expansive views over vines and valley. The hotel’s contemporary architecture embraces the natural setting with an emphasis on local materials. The close-to-nature philosophy runs through in each of the four contrasting restaurants, all of which feature organic produce.

The spa with its clean lines, natural stones and light wood conveys contemporary elegance in keeping with the spirit of the property. 100% natural treatments feature regional ingredients: think oils from Provençal plants and flowers, mineral salts, clays and more.

While book at this hotel with French Side Travel, enjoy a free guided walking tour of Art and Architecture path and wine tasting.

Côte d’Azur

top france travel destination 2022 cote d'azur

Further east, the glittering French Riviera is a Mediterranean paradise. The Riviera marries glamour with old-world charm. Bask in the bright sun and soak in the superb turquoise waters. Indulge in the Rivera’s flair for luxury. Michelin-starred restaurants, yacht rides, legendary nightlife, and Monaco’s Monte Carlo Casino await. This sparkling coastline from Cassis to Menton has long drawn celebrities and the jet-set crowd. The Côte d’Azur is a wonderful place to visit anytime of year, you can see French Side Travel’s guide to visiting the Nice area in the winter here.


French Side Travel thanks you for your support in 2022 and sends our Meilleurs Voeux (best wishes) for 2023. We hope this list of the top France travel destinations in 2023 inspires future travel. We would love to help you plan a dream trip to France this year with a custom itinerary that includes stops in any or all of these destinations. Get in touch with a travel designer today to start the planning process!

French Side Travel’s Client Favorite Destinations in 2022

French Side Travel clients traveled to all corners of France in an exciting 2022. Visitors experienced the best of various styles and types of travel including history and culture, romance, adventure, and gastronomy to name a few. Read on to discover French Side Travel’s client favorite destinations in 2022.


French Side Travel’s Client Favorite Destinations in 2022

Paris

paris notre dame view at sunset

Paris, the French capital, is renowned for its historical sights and monumental beauty. Year after year, Paris tops French Side Travel’s client favorite destinations list. The superb Haussmann style townhouses, grand avenues and boulevards, legendary museums, churches, and parks offer endless opportunities for excursions and visits.

In 2022, clients enjoyed exhilarating summits to the Eiffel Tower to take in the legendary views as well as Seine River cruises for a unique vantage point of the city. The Musée du Louvre and Château de Versailles topped lists for extraordinary historical sights.

Montmartre was a favorite area to explore. In addition to offering a great view over the entire city, it also is home to hidden small vineyards, narrow cobblestone streets and numerous romantic places. Wandering about the lively side streets and picturesque narrow alleys, you’ll discover the authentic Parisian ambiance and art de vivre.

Normandy

normandy french side travel's client favorite destinations in 2022

Normandy is a perennial favorite destination thanks to its proximity to Paris along with its fascinating history, fabulous foods, and two major attractions: Mont Saint-Michel and the World War II D-Day landing beaches and memorials.

The island and abbey of Mont Saint-Michel are some of the most visited, most photographed, and most easily recognized landmarks in France. Mont Saint-Michel is on the border of Normandy and Brittany, and is one of the leading tourist destinations in France and an important pilgrimage destination, with more than two million visitors each year. The abbey, known as La Merveille (The Marvel), was built between the 10th and the 16th centuries. Both Romanesque and Gothic style elements of architecture are on display, as well as far-reaching views across the bay.

North of Bayeux rest the iconic World War II D-Day landing beaches and memorials, where thousands of brave allied troops gave their lives to liberate France, and eventually Europe. Clients particularly enjoyed private guided tours to explore the moving sites that hosted the pivotal battles. Two especially powerful places of remembrance include the moving and solemn American cemetery in Colleville-sur-Mer and the Pointe du Hoc, with largely untouched rugged cliffs and bomb craters, bunkers, and casements still visible.

Provence

les baux de provence

During the warmer months, the sun-drenched Provence tops many travelers’ lists of places to visit in France. This striking region located between sea and mountains continues to captivate with its striking history, connection to art, beauty, as well as unique regional foods and wines.

Clients especially enjoyed private guided tours of the Luberon Regional National Park. This UNESCO-listed 120,000-hectare nature reserve encompasses limestone mountains, rolling hills, serene valleys, orchards and farms. The picturesque villages of the Luberon are some of Provence’s most charming, unspoiled tourist destinations.

Nestled in the Alpilles mountains, Les Baux-de-Provence, one of the “most beautiful villages in France,” is a typical Provençal fortified hilltop village and offers great views of the plains, the Mediterranean Sea and the stunning rocky landscape of the Alpilles. Narrow cobbled streets wind car-free past ancient houses, up to splendid castle ruins sitting on top of a rocky outcrop above the village.

For wine lovers, Châteauneuf-du-Pape is a must. The ruins of the Pope’s formal summer residence dominate a typical medieval village. A sea of blonde pebbles cover the vineyards. The 13 varieties of grapes combined with the various soils create a large palette of complex red wines and elegant white wines.

Where to Stay in Provence
le mas des herbes blanches

Le Mas des Herbes Blanches

This five-star property is a jewel set in the exceptional Luberon landscapes. It’s a refined base from which to explore the villages of Gordes, Roussillon, Bonnieux, Lacost, Goult and Ménerbes.

Provençal charm and old stone meets modern amenities. The 47 luxurious rooms and suites with terraces offering splendid views. Treat yourself in the two onsite restaurants and the bar. The Sothys spa boasts a heated indoor pool, Jacuzzi, fitness room, sauna, and more.

Côte d’Azur

cote d'azur french side travel's client favorite destinations in 2022

The glittering French Riviera, or Côte d’Azur, is a Mediterranean paradise. The Côte d’Azur blends glamour with a certain old-world charm only found in this area. Bask in the bright sun and soak in the superb turquoise waters along the sparkling coastline.

One of the most popular places to visit is the Medieval village of Èze, located on a rock 450 meters above sea level and surrounds the ruins of a 12th-century castle. This quaint little village has stunning views of the Mediterranean Sea. Explore the labyrinth of cobble-stoned streets, lined with bougainvillea-wrapped houses, and with views down the steep hillside to the Mediterranean. Narrow, sloping streets and archways open out into hidden squares, fountains and quiet courtyards make this town idyllic.

Another gorgeous tour includes the Loup Valley perched villages. Villages are attached like balconies to the sides of the mountain, combining all the elements you would expect to find on a visit to the south of France: timeless beauty, local authenticity, French flavor, breathtaking panoramas, and the opportunity to forget about the modern world.

It would be impossible to mention the Côte d’Azur without mentioning Monaco. The Casino of Monte Carlo, the gardens, and the nearby Hotel de Paris are worth a visit where people flock to this mythical place. Explore its impressive architecture and grandiose rooms. Consider a pause at the Café de Paris’ terrace to watch the world pass by and indulge in a cold drink or an ice cream. Walk through the old city, by the cathedral and the palace. The changing of the guard at 11:55 am is a visitor favorite. Port Hercule gives off a James Bond feel with its resplendent yachts, the Grand Prix circuit, and the towering Oceanographic Museum.

Loire Valley

loire valley chateau

Known as the Garden of France, the Loire Valley is home to many of France’s most extraordinary châteaux and gardens. The region’s proximity to Paris makes it one of French Side Travel’s client favorite destinations in 2022. Visiting the Loire Valley can be done in a day trip from Paris. To fully enjoy all of the offerings it is recommended to spend a night or two in the region.

Along with seeing fabulous châteaux (you can find a list of French Side Travel favorites here), be sure to leave time for wine tasting and unique experiences like a hot air balloon ride over the châteaux, a cruise in a traditional boat down the Loire River and more.

Champagne

champagne french side travel's client favorite destinations in 2022

Just 45 minutes by train from Paris is the Champagne region, so it is of no surprise that it’s a French Side Travel client favorite destination in 2022. There are hundreds of Champagne producers in the region ranging from small family growers to prestigious houses like Dom Pérignon. Champagne is a perfect romantic escape for food and wine lovers looking to explore using all five senses. The charming villages, assortment of Champagne houses, as well as the fabulous ultra-luxurious accommodations in the region dazzle clients.

Where to Stay in Champagne
royal champagne hotel and spa

Royal Champagne Hôtel & Spa

In the heart of a vineyard, this former, recently refurbished coach house – one of Napoleon’s favorite stopovers – is the perfect base from which to explore the glorious Champagne wineries. All you need to do is visiting the wine cellar, which boasts no fewer than 220 exceptional brut and rosé vintages and crus. The best place to taste them is on the terrace overlooking the vines, which extend as far as the eye can see.

All the 47 luxurious rooms have magical Champagne views. The interiors take inspiration from the natural and cultural heritage of the region. Traditional materials are favorite to create a sleek and graphic mise-en-scene.

Vegetables are grown by the staff. Meat is delivered daily by farmers. All of this makes fine dining in the Michelin starred restaurant contemporary and exciting. Multi-course tasting menus or a la carte meals are paired with wines carefully selected by an expert sommelier.

Burgundy

burgundy vineyards

Eastern France’s Burgundy is a prime wine-growing country. This area was once covered by a large sea, leaving today’s vineyards with unusual mineral-rich limestone and unique terroir. Combined with the vineyards’ privileged location and a favorable climate, the area produces some of the world’s great wines. For true wine aficionados, there is nothing more exciting than a trip to Burgundy. Get up close and personal with Chablis, Côte de Nuits, Beaune, Mâcon, and Nuits-Saint-Georges AOCs to name a few.

But Burgundy is more than just wine. The region is also incredibly well-known for its food. Don’t miss Beaune, the capital of Burgundy, with its fabulous Wednesday and Saturday markets. The Hospices de Beaune with its stunning tiled roof is located just alongside the market. A cooking class in Burgundy is an incredible option for discovering some of the regional specialty foods.


We hope this list of French Side Travel’s client favorite destinations in 2022 help inspire a future trip. Our travel designers are standing by to create a tailor-made itinerary just for you. Some of our favorite destinations include Paris, Bordeaux, Normandy, and Southern France.

French New Year Traditions and Celebrations

December is a festive time in France with various fêtes taking place all month long. Because of this fabulous ambiance, France is always a top pick as a destination to spend La Saint-Sylvestre (New Year’s Eve) and ring in the New Year. Whether you’re a visitor or French, the New Year traditions and celebrations are not to be missed!


French New Year Traditions and Celebrations

Le Réveillon du Nouvel An Dinner

french new year traditions and celebrations champagne at the dinner

Like with many French celebrations, food, family, and friends usually take center stage. The traditional New Year’s Eve dinner is called Le Réveillon du Nouvel An. Le Réveillon may sound familiar because it also refers to the Christmas Eve dinner. The menu is often times either very similar or exactly the same on both nights and often includes oysters, smoked salmon, foie gras, capon, and of course Champagne!

Private Guided Paris Market Tour

Let our expert food guide take you to shop for products to prepare a special New Year’s Eve dinner in Paris. You will discover the history of one of the most famous Parisian food markets and its district, meet the merchants, and taste the best seasonal specialties.

Your guide will tell you about the history of the area you are visiting and the market. You will taste fresh produce and learn how to choose fruits and vegetables according to their use and season. Your charming Parisian guide will also be able to share a few favorite recipes with you!

This tour is an unforgettable experience where you will get to discover some of the most famous Parisian food markets known for the quality of their products.

New Year’s Eve Dinner in Paris

new year's eve in montmartre
Moulin Rouge

Paris is a popular place to celebrate the New Year because there are so many different options for a memorable evening. Many restaurants create special New Year’s Eve menus, that of course include Champagne. Some of the most sought-after dinner reservations in Paris are for cabaret performances that include dinner and a show as well as Seine River dinner cruises.

Moulin Rouge, Crazy Horse and Paradis Latin all have special New Year’s Eve performances and menus to keep guests entertained for the entire night. A Seine Dinner cruise is always a special experience, but even more so on New Year’s Eve. Some of the boats offer live music on board and parties that continue next to the Seine following the end of the cruise. The Ducasse-sur-Seine boat prepares a special traditional réveillon menu with food and wine pairings.

Ring in the New Year in the City of Light

french new year traditions and celebrations montmartre

The festivities are pared back this year, but during normal years, you’ll find festive light shows and street parties in several Paris neighborhoods. The place to be in Paris is usually along the packed Champs-Élysées. There’s a sound and light show projected onto the Arc de Triomphe and plenty of restaurant options in the surrounding area. Contrary to popular belief, there are not usually fireworks at the Eiffel Tower.

For a more low-key street party, Montmartre is another popular choice. You can take in the sweeping views of Paris from above and continue your evening in one of the neighborhood’s cabarets or bars.

New Year Wishes and Cards

French people don’t send as many Christmas cards, but rather wait to send cards and wishes for the New Year. The tradition is to send a card on or after January 1st, but now it is also common to exchange text messages or phone calls wishing Meilleurs Voeux (best wishes) to loved ones.

fireworks in versailles new year

New Year Celebrations at La Grande Contrôle

For travelers looking for an exceptional experience, Le Grand Contrôle offers the chance to see in the New Year at the Château de Versailles. Over two nights, celebrate the New Year the way the Royal Court did many years ago. Highlights include a festive dinner and costume party on the New Year’s Eve and a Royal Brunch on New Year’s Day.

The hotel will be entirely privatized for guests during this two day period. Treat yourself to an extraordinary experience – dine, celebrate and enjoy exclusive access to the Alain Ducasse restaurant and the Bar de la Chapelle.


We hope you enjoyed learning more about French New Year traditions and celebrations. French Side Travel thanks you for your support in 2022 and sends our Meilleurs Voeux (best wishes) for 2023 We would love to help you plan a dream trip to France in the coming year with a custom itinerary. Some of our favorite destinations include Paris, Bordeaux, Normandy, and Southern France.

Winter in France: What to See and Do

While it may come as a surprise, one of the best times to visit France is during the winter months. You can experience the country with less crowds while still taking advantage of all of the rich cultural offerings. In fact, there are numerous food and wine and outdoor and adventure excursions only available in the cooler months. Read on to discover French Side Travel’s picks for what to see and do during the winter in France.


Winter in France: What to See and Do

Provence: Private Truffle Hunting and Tasting Tour

winter in france provence truffle hunting

From November until April, you’ll have the chance to explore the world’s most secretive and exciting business. Visit a Provençal truffle plantation where you’ll take a tour, learn about the cultivation of truffles as well as the training of truffle dogs. Afterwards, accompany trained hunters to hunt for France’s elusive “black gold.” You’ll soon know the difference between a real Provençal tuber melanosporum and its inferior Chinese counterparts as well as the process of cleaning, storing, and cooking truffles.

Truffles aren’t the only thing you’ll discover on the exciting tour. Along the way you’ll see wild herbs, vineyards, olive groves, and beehives.

Following the hunt, enjoy different hors d’oeuvres including truffle ice cream and truffle honey, a tasting of the plantation’s own truffle oils, truffle salts, and organic extra-virgin olive oils paired with Champagne. A wonderful winter in France foodie experience!

Where to Stay in Provence
villa saint ange provence

Villa Saint Ange

This 5-star hotel is unique in Aix-en-Provence. Housed in an 18th-century villa with expansive grounds, it is nevertheless within walking distance of the historic city center.

Rooms and suites are large with modern amenities and sophisticated décor.

The onsite restaurant offers a take on Mediterranean and Italian classes. Lunch on the large terrace is divine in warm weather. The bar serves creative cocktails inspired by artists like Picasso and Vasarely.

Guests can enjoy access to the spa, gym, heated swimming pool, terrace, and large garden.

Loire Valley: Exceptional Vintage Wine Tasting

loire valley wine tasting

With the Loire River, north meets south. Thanks to the mild climate and all the different “terroirs,” there is a wonderful diversity of wines: 50 appellations and PDO for 70,000 hectares of vineyards.

You will find a large choice among the refreshing, fruity and delicate rosés, reds that are both complex and easy drinking, and whites ranging from dry to sweet reds. There are also wonderful sparkling wines produced using the same method as Champagnes. The wines are all perfect for specific food pairings because most are made with a single grape variety.

Visit a domaine with an astonishing 10th century cellar, excavated in limestone. It contains very rare wines from exceptional years which date back to 1874. You will have the chance to take a tour of the cellar, during which some of the secrets of the winemaking will be revealed. During the tasting you’ll enjoy a variety of wines, including five exceptional vintage wines, paired with local charcuterie.

French Alps: After Hours Skiing

winter in france after hours skiing in courchevel

Have you ever dreamed of having the iconic French Alps slopes to yourself? With this unique winter in France experience, it’s completely possible. You’ll have the opportunity to continue skiing after the slopes are closed for the day. You’ll meet your expert guide at the top of Courchevel to have a drink and enjoy the sunset.

Then, once the sky is dark and everyone is at home, you’ll have the entire slope to yourself and experience after hours skiing at night. This is an excellent opportunity to take in the unique view of the lights of Courchevel from above!

Burgundy: Private Mulled Wine and Gingerbread Experience

burgundy wine and gingerbread

The wintertime is the best time to enjoy hot mulled wine. The best, of course, come from Burgundy! Tour Philippe le Bon, which is over 150 feet tall, provides an exceptional panoramic view of the city of Dijon and its surroundings. It’s an ideal, yet unexpected, place to enjoy a hot beverage.

After a climb to the top, you’ll be able to sip mulled wine paired with gingerbread, which is another specialty of Burgundy. During this unique experience you’ll have the Tour Philippe le Bon completely to yourself. A unique and romantic winter moment in France indeed.

Where to Stay in Burgundy
relais bernard loiseau

Le Relais Bernard Loiseau

This 5-star hotel is located in the Morvan regional natural park in the heart of Dijon. The 33 rooms and suites are organized on four levels, served by the emblematic oak stair tower. The rooms of the hotel are authentically furnished and have a heritage look blended with modern amenities and comforts.

The restaurant embodies the excellence and attachment to the land of Burgundy. The chef seeks to bring nature, specifically the Morvan, into the plate.

The spa has been multi-distinguished for the unique experience it offers to customers. It is composed of a multi-sensory space for an intense and diverse stimulation of the five senses along with another space conducive to relaxation and well-being.

Versailles: VIP Experience at the Château de Versailles

versailles vip experience

Experience one of the most popular landmarks in France without all of the crowds. During this unique private tour, a guide of the Palace will take you to discover the lesser-known gems of the amazing Château.

The Palace of Versailles holds genuine treasures that are unknown to most visitors – think secret passages, rooms, private apartments, bathrooms and other hidden places. Apartments belonging to kings, queens, mistresses and courtiers in this royal residence, a symbol of French absolutism and artistic and cultural influence, reveal everyday life in the Court and key events in the history of France.

After your tour, it’s only fitting to relive the sumptuous evenings of the King. From the menu to the waiters’ attire, from the setting to the tableware, everything comes together to make a dinner in the Ducasse salons at the Château de Versailles an experience. For this 12-course dinner, Alain Ducasse carried out careful research and took his inspiration from 18th century menus. Yet behind the ancient names you’ll discover a contemporary interpretation of the cuisine. Beyond dinner, it is a genuine experience.


Ready to see and do all of the fabulous offerings this winter in France? There’s still time to make it happen! Our travel designers are standing by and can help you book any of these activities and create the perfect fall itinerary in France. Some of our most popular fall destinations include Normandy, Burgundy, Bordeaux, the Loire Valley, and Southern France.

Our Favorite Hotels in Paris

There is certainly no shortage of hotels in Paris, so picking the perfect place to stay can sometimes feel like an overwhelming task. French Side Travel has put together a list of our favorite hotels in Paris. All of these hotels have been visited and tested by our team of locally-based travel experts. Be sure to book with French Side Travel to receive special perks, amenities, and upgrades among other benefits.


Our Favorite Hotels in Paris

La Réserve

our favorite hotels in paris la reserve

This palace hotel is housed in a mansion that dates from 1854.

Behind its ruby red doors, the hotel offers guests a world of Haussmann charm and rooms with stunning views of Paris’s finest landmarks. The elegant and stylish decorations illustrate the mansion’s Belle Époque history.

The hotel has 26 suites and 14 rooms that seamlessly combine tradition with modern technology and all provide exceptional comfort for the prestigious clientele. It is also worth noting that it is the first palace hotel to offer a personal butler service for every room. This special attention makes guests feel as though they are staying in a private home.

Away from the hustle and bustle of the world’s most beautiful avenue, this discrete and spacious hotel also has a private library and a smoking room. Other exclusive amenities for guest include a gym with a personal trainer, a steam room & spa with Nescens-Swiss products, and an indoor pool.

Pavillon de la Reine

pavillon de la reine paris

This hotel is an incredibly romantic hideaway in the heart of Le Marais. Built in 1612 by King Henry IV of France, this 17th century residence was converted into a 5-star hotel. The property is tucked away from the galleries and shops in the surrounding area.

Set just behind the Place des Vosges, often referred to as the most beautiful square in the world, this hotel is a true haven. Privately owned and family-run, it offers the understated sophistication of a private home with all the service, charm and elegance of a grand palace.

The historical setting can be felt throughout design, with a brilliant mix of rich, contemporary interiors and original antique furnishings including oil paintings. The distinctive façade and a private courtyard garden, awash with greenery, enhance hotel’s 56 bedrooms and suites.

The fine dining menu from the Michelin-starred restaurant celebrates seasonal ingredients from carefully selected producers. The lounges have the feeling of a private library, with intimate seating, antique furniture and open fireplaces. Boasting a brilliant mix of chic interiors, they are a cozy hideaway where guests can relax and unwind.

paris private river cruise

Private Seine River Cruise with Champagne

The experience offers you a unique, tailor-made private cruise down the most beautiful waterway in the world, Paris’ Seine River. Sit comfortably on a leather-covered banquette in the private salon, with tinted windows to respect your privacy. The cruise includes one bottle of champagne.

During this cruise, you will discover the historical center of Paris including Notre Dame, the Musée du Louvre, the Tour Eiffel and more. This is sure to be an amazing and unforgettable moment on any Paris trip!

Château Voltaire

our favorite hotels in paris chateau voltaire

This 5-star hotel centrally located in the first arrondissement is a design lover’s dream. The hotel is a tribute to the Parisian art de vivre and is a combination of three buildings that date back from the 17th and 18th centuries.

The 32 rooms are the epitome of elegance and comfort. Each room contains bespoke headboards, handcrafted details, solid oak wall lights, fringed velvet, and manor-style woodwork. Each element adds to the setting, evoking an almost Gothic, angular and poetic Paris.

Discover a reinterpreted French cuisine at the restaurant. The chef combines local produce with modern culinary skills to create intricate delicacies. Here, the dining experience permeates the art de vivre through even the smallest details.

The spa features a sauna as well as a heated pool where guests can relax on a heated day-bed.

Hôtel San Régis

hotel san regis paris

Tucked away in a charming and secluded street at the heart of the ‘Golden Triangle’ in Paris, this 5-star hotel is ideally located to enjoy the lively Champs-Elysées district, Avenue Montaigne and the Grand Palais. This hotel was built in the 19th century and has been owned by the same family since 1923. Today, two sisters own and run the family property.

Each of the 30 bedrooms and twelve suites has its own distinctive style, furnished with sumptuous fabrics from the finest houses that complement the antique and period furniture. The rooms in the hotel are spacious and offer large closets. They are all equipped with modern facilities: large beds, a LED television with multimedia services, high speed WiFi, mini bar, and courtesy tray.

The restaurant, under a glass roof, serves continental cuisine as well as à la carte options. Guests can also enjoy drinks in the bar.

Hôtel Bel Ami

hotel bel ami

This boutique 5-star hotel is located on the Left Bank of the Seine River. When you stay here you’ll be right in the heart of Paris’s famed Saint-Germain-de-Prés and neighboring Latin Quarter.

The hotel’s atmosphere is modern and warm. Onsite you can enjoy a buffet breakfast or weekend brunches. A spa, sauna, and fitness center are provided for your comfort. The onsite bar serves creative cocktails and is a great place to unwind with a snack and a drink. For travelers arriving in the morning, a relaxation room is at your disposal. Take a shower or change your clothes before beginning to discover the city.

This property is perfect for anyone interested in the food, culture, and art offerings abundant in Paris’s sixth arrondissement. Steps away you’ll discover the two most famous cafés in the city: Café de Flore and Les Deux Magots.

Pavillon Faubourg Saint Germain

pavillon faubourg saint germain

Joining our list of favorite hotels in Paris is this newly renovated 5-star hotel. It was formerly a favorite haunt of artists in the 20th century. You’ll feel the strong history of the location but enjoy modern comforts. The hotel is a perfect base for discovering the City of Light.

The rooms are elegantly designed in harmony with modernity. They are spacious, luxurious and perfectly equipped. Indulge in absolute relaxation and unwind in the lounge bar, or cozy up by the beautiful stone fireplace. The hotel’s restaurant serves delicious brasserie dishes made from fresh and seasonal produce. A chance to savor a plethora of culinary delights! Experience the ultimate in well-being with the wide range of spa services offered at the hotel.

Hôtel Brighton

hotel brighton paris view

Built-in the 19th century by Lord Egerton, this 4-star hotel was one of the first hotels in Paris. Offering a sublime view of the Tuileries Garden, the Louvre Museum and the Eiffel Tower, the hotel is in an ideal location.

The individually decorated rooms come with antique furniture and exude an elegant and refined Parisian charm. The hotel offers amenities like free Wi-Fi, a TV, a minibar, hairdryer, safe, telephone, bathrobe, and slippers. Decorated with fabrics by top brands and antique furniture, the rooms also comes with a Nespresso machine, a welcome tray, and a welcome kit from the Sothys brand. Half of the rooms offer remarkable views over Paris, from the Louvre on your left, through the Tuileries gardens to the Eiffel Tower on your right.

The traditional marble columns of the bar make it an ideal setting to enjoy a cocktail made by the mixologist. Enjoy a hot and cold buffet with the very best French products every day in the breakfast room. Upon request, the hotel also serves a continental breakfast to the room.

Paris Shopping Experience
la samaritaine

Private Guided Visit and Shopping Experience at La Samaritaine

Over the past 150 years, Samaritaine has sparked fond memories for many Parisians – from climbing the theatrical steps that lead you to its renowned glass roof to shopping for unexpected gifts in the company of loved ones.

Graced with state-of-the-art architecture and exquisite historical features, the gloriously reimagined landmark fuses original Art Nouveau and Art Deco details with contemporary newness. Located in the beating heart of the city close to many of our favorite hotels in Paris, this iconic landmark will become a must-visit destination for locals and travelers to indulge in what is quintessentially the Parisian experience.

In this tour, your guide will tell you all about the history of La Samaritaine, its architecture, the recent renovations, and also what’s in store for La Samaritaine in the near future. You will also have a chance to visit the VIP shopping apartment where you can work with a stylist.

Hôtel de Sers

our favorite hotels in paris hotel de sers

This five-star property is housed in a beautiful 19th-century mansion. You’ll love the historical charm of the building, the fine architectural details, and the luxury amenities. The location is perfect, just a short walk from the Champs-Elysées. Many of the suites include balconies with fantastic views of the surrounding city and the Eiffel Tower.

Spa treatments are available for your comfort. The contemporary bar features inviting décor including wood paneling, jazz, cocktails, and snacks. The restaurant serves fine cuisine on the shaded patio or in the dining room.

Pets are also welcome at the Hôtel de Sers.

Hotel Nolinski

hotel nolinski

The 5-star Hotel Nolinski is a recent entrant into The City of Light’s burgeoning hotel scene. It is located just a stone’s throw away from the Louvre Museum and the Opéra Garnier.

The hotel, with unique character, blends contemporary aesthetics and classical prestige. Hues of blue and emerald green, precious materials and custom-made furniture and furnishings intertwine to orchestrate harmonious ensemble. The usage of noble materials, iconic pieces, moldings, and ceramics give the rooms the look and feel of private apartments. Some of the rooms and suites have step-out balconies overlooking the city.

The restaurant with its warm-toned environment and a touch of the seventies style serves an array of gastronomical French cuisine with a modern twist. The spa features an indoor pool, a hammam, and a sauna, with a full menu of luxurious body treatments, massages, and facials. It invites its guests to experience a moment of serenity in an intimate setting.

Hôtel des Saints-Pères

hotel des saints peres

The hotel’s classical façade was built in 1658 by Daniel Gittard, the chief architect of Louis XIV.

Fabrics from the best designers adorn each of the differently decorated rooms, along with period furniture and paintings. Most rooms offer a view over the patio, offering the guests a oasis of tranquility in the middle of the buzzling quarter of Saint Germain des Prés.

Breakfast is the chance to share a touch of the French lifestyle that is so important to French people. Every morning, in the breakfast room decorated with antique moulding, you will find a hot and cold buffet with a selection of the very best French products.

Hotel Vernet

hotel vernet

This five-star hotel is located in one of Paris’s favorite neighborhoods. You’ll be just off of the Champs-Elysées and close to the Arc de Triomphe.

The rooms, recently renovated and refurbished, will make you feel like in an oasis of tranquility after a day well spent wandering around the city. The noble materials used, such as the wood, mixed with touches of colors and modern furniture create a perfect bubble for you and your loved ones.

The restaurant is a must, featuring fine cuisine and a surprising glass dome ceiling by Gustave Eiffel. Spa treatments and fitness equipment are available for your comfort. Enjoy private onsite parking with a valet service and a 24-hour reception.


We hope this list of our favorite hotels in Paris helps inspire a future trip. If you’d like to give the gift of France this holiday season, don’t hesitate to contact French Side Travel to create a custom itinerary to surprise your loved ones. Some of our favorite destinations include Paris, Bordeaux, Normandy, and Southern France.

French Christmas Traditions and Celebrations

Whether you’re spending the holidays in France or at home, bringing French Christmas traditions into your celebration will make it extra special. Learn about some of the typical ways French people celebrate Christmas including advent calendars, nativity scenes, Christmas trees, letters to Santa Claus, and the Christmas Eve dinner.


French Christmas Traditions and Celebrations

Festive Decorations

french christmas decorations

Starting in late November you’ll find streets, cafés, restaurants, hotels and boutiques adorned with festive décor. Many places participate from the local fromagerie (cheese shop) to the corner café and the large grands magasins (department stores). Flower shops carry both plain and decorated wreaths, mini trees perfect for a tabletop or mantle, and of course Sapins de Noël (Christmas trees).

Christmas Markets

french christmas market

Various marchés de Noël (Christmas markets) appear throughout France from late November until the end of December. Strasbourg is especially known for its Christmas markets and you’ll find multiple in Paris (read about them here). Other marchés de Noël worth visiting include Metz, Avignon, Colmar, Reims, and Lille.

habits de lumiere epernay 2022

Habits de Lumière in Épernay

If you’re thinking about a visit to the Marché de Noël in Reims consider a stop in Épernay. From December 9th to 11th see the Habits de Lumière, a joyful three-day celebration in the capital of Champagne!

Each day will be filled with luminous, interactive and immersive installations and animations, including fireworks! Enjoy cooking demonstrations from Michelin-starred chefs paired with champagnes, a pastry competition for young chefs aged 8-12, food and champagne pairing workshops, and an antique and classic car parade.

Calendriers de l’Avent — Advent Calendars

Calendriers de l’Avent (Advent Calendars) are very popular in France. You’ll begin seeing them at the end of October. It’s best to buy them early before they sell out. You can find simple advent calendars filled with chocolates and candies at your local grocery store. You can also pick up a more elaborate calendar. Many French brands now make calendars with skincare and beauty products, specialty chocolates, and teas. Even if you can’t make it to France, calendars are available online so you can partake in the fun.

Crèche — Nativity Scene

french christmas traditions and celebrations: santons in the crèche

Setting up the crèche (nativity scene) is also a very important part of French holiday décor. Many families collect the pieces over many years and have quite extensive crèches. In Provence, Santons are the little clay figurines found in nativity scenes. The literal translation of Santon is ‘little saint.’ There’s an entire Foire aux Santons dedicated to these collectables in Marseille from November 19th through December 31st.

Sapin de Noël — Christmas Tree

sapin de noël

You can purchase a sapin de Noël (Christmas tree) from florists and grocery stores in France. They are usually available at the end of November; however, many French people don’t purchase their trees until a week or so before Christmas. The tree stand is typically a cut log because French people don’t typically water their trees. Some French families wait until Christmas Eve to decorate their trees with with lights, guirlande (tinsel) and ornaments. Many families keep their trees up through Epiphany on January 6th.

Le Secrétariat du Père Noël — Santa Claus’ Secretary

secretariat du pere noel
© Maxppp – Marc Ollivier

Children in France write letters to Père Noël, and thanks to Le Secrétariat du Père Noël (Santa Claus’ secretary) each letter has received a response for the last 60 years. The secrétariat is run by over 60 elves who respond to each letter from children all over the world (there were letters from 124 countries in 2021). Each year the secrétariat receives about 1,000,000 letters and 80,000 emails. Letters to Père Noël don’t even need a stamp – as long as the envelope says “Père Noël” the letters are sent to the secrétariat in Gironde. Be sure to mail your letter by December 20th in order to receive a response!

Réveillon de Noël – Christmas Eve

christmas eve dinner champagne

Perhaps one of the most anticipated French Christmas traditions comes on Christmas Eve with the Réveillon de Noël (the verb réveiller means to wake up or revive). Following La Messe de Minuit (the Midnight Mass) French families come home to open presents and enjoy a feast. Typically you’ll find champagne, wine, capon (turkey stuffed with chestnuts), oysters, foie gras, smoked salmon, scallops, and of course the decadent chocolate Bûche de Noël cake.

In Provence, there is a unique Christmas tradition to eat 13 desserts following the Christmas dinner: one for each Christ and his twelve apostles. Each of the desserts served varies a bit based on the region and particular family. Some common items include fougasse, the four beggars (almonds, raisins, dried figs and nuts), Cachat piquant, white and black nougat, calissons, pain d’épice, and of course, the Bûche de Noël.

Following the dinner, instead of leaving stockings, French children put their souliers (shoes) on the hearth of the fireplace for Père Noël to hopefully fill them with small presents and treats!

Christmas in Courchevel
les airelles christmas

Christmas at Les Airelles in Courchevel

For the perfect vacation with a white Christmas guaranteed, consider a stay at Les Airelles in Courchevel. The whole family can take a look inside of Père Noël’s workshop, filled with gifts for all ages!

The Christmas magic won’t stop there. On Christmas Eve there will be a Christmas gala dinner at La Table des Airelles where you’ll taste the best of traditional French Christmas foods. It’s sure to be a Réveillon de Noël to remember!


We hope you’ll be able to incorporate some French Christmas traditions into your holiday celebration. If you’d like to give the gift of France, don’t hesitate to contact French Side Travel to create a custom itinerary to surprise your loved ones. Some of our favorite destinations include Paris, Bordeaux, Normandy, and Southern France.

Visiting Paris in the Winter

Don’t let the colder temperatures deter you, visiting Paris in the winter is a wonderful idea. You can experience Christmas markets, taste plenty of seasonal foods and drinks, and finish your holiday shopping – all with the City of Light decked in holiday lights and decorations in the background. We’re sharing some of the highlights of visiting Paris in the winter.


Visiting Paris in the Winter

Take in the Holiday Lights and Decorations

visiting paris during the winter notre dame decorations

They take holiday lights and decorations very seriously in the City of Light. As a result, pretty much anywhere you go you’ll be struck by the magic of the season. Even small boutiques and neighborhoods participate in decorating – the results are charming and make Paris feel like a small village.

However, don’t miss the holiday lights and decorations found along the major avenues and places in Paris. Highlights year after year include the sparking white lights on the Avenue des Champs-Élysées, the glamorous Avenue Montaigne, the striking Place Vendôme, and the whimsical Boulevard Saint Germain.

paris by night 2cv

Illumination Tour of Paris with A Glass of Champagne in a Classic French Car

Paris, City of Light, is never more stunning than at night, when she truly lives up to her name. With illuminated avenues and spot-lit monuments Paris takes on a fairy-tale dimension. The city becomes extra magical during the holiday season!

You’ll be welcomed with a glass of champagne and visit Paris in a classic Citroën 2CV with an English-speaking guide. See the highlights of central Paris including the Avenue des Champs Elysées, the Arc de Triomphe, the Trocadéro, the Eiffel Tower, the Invalides, Pont Alexandre III, the Petit and Grand Palais, the Place de la Concorde, the Garnier Opera, the Place Vendôme, the Louvre, the Île de la Cité, and the Notre Dame Cathedral. You’ll also enjoy a stunning perspective of the city from the top, at the balcony in Montmartre. Truly the perfect way to see all of the holiday lights!

See the Christmas Markets in Paris

paris christmas market in the tuileries

A must-see when visiting Paris in the winter is one or more of the fabulous Christmas markets in Paris. You’ll find the markets sprinkled throughout the city. Each is different and provides a festive mix of ways to take in the holiday spirit. We recommend getting a cup of hot chocolate and wandering the various stalls. You’ll find holiday decorations, regional and seasonal food specialties, music, sometimes rides and attractions and just general merriment!

Some of our favorite Christmas Markets in Paris can be found in the following locations: the Tuileries Garden (formerly along the Champs-Élysées), Saint-Germain-des-Prés, Saint-Sulpice, Place de la Nation, Place des Abesses in Montmartre, Gare de l’Est and Trocadéro.

Get Your Holiday Shopping Done

galeries lafayette christmas tree 2022

Year-round, the shopping is fabulous in Paris. Once the department stores and boutiques install their famous holiday window and interior displays they become nearly impossible to resist. And what better way to surprise someone on your list than with a special gift from Paris? The Grands Magasins, Galeries Lafayette and Printemps have some of the most impressive window displays in the city year after year, and the Christmas tree inside Galeries Lafayette is truly incredible. Don’t miss the tree’s light and animation show every half-hour.

On the Left Bank you’ll find the oldest department store in Paris, Le Bon Marché, which always has impressive window displays and decorations. The fabulous Samaritaine reopened in 2021 after extensive renovations and features a striking holiday display blended with intricate architectural details.

samaritaine christmas

Private Guided Visit of La Samaritaine

Over the past 150 years, Samaritaine has sparked fond memories for many Parisians – from climbing the theatrical steps that lead to its renowned glass roof to shopping for unexpected gifts in the company of loved ones.

Graced with state-of-the-art architecture and exquisite historical features, the landmark has been gloriously reimagined, fusing original Art Nouveau and Art Deco details with contemporary newness. Located in the beating heart of Paris, this iconic landmark will become a must-visit destination for locals and travelers to indulge in what is quintessentially the Parisian experience.

In this tour, your guide will tell you all about the history of La Samaritaine, its architecture, the renovations which have been recently done and also what’s in store for La Samaritaine in the near future.

Taste Traditional French Christmas Foods and Drinks

vin chaud and chocolat chaud

Throughout the holiday season you’ll find seasonal foods and drinks sprinkled throughout restaurant and café menus, bakeries, as well as in markets and grocery stores. There’s always plenty of seafood including oysters, scallops, smoked salmon and lobster, as well as foie gras and capon. Bûche de Noël is a favorite dessert. Many of the city’s top pastry chef’s each create a version with their own special touch.

To drink you’ll find the Alsatian specialty vin chaud at many cafés and Christmas markets. There’s no better way to warm up than with a glass of mulled wine. Chocolat chaud is also a must. Angelina is known for their thick and rich version of hot chocolate, but we also love chocolate master Jacques Genin’s delicious version of the drink. For people-watching, you can’t beat a cup of hot chocolate at Café de Flore.

And of course, when in France, Champagne is always a good idea. Stop for a glass at a café or restaurant, treat yourself to an exceptional setting at a hotel bar, or better yet, enjoy a private Champagne tasting in a magnificent cellar to learn even more about this delicate drink.

galerie vivienne christmas decorations

Luxury Christmas Food & Decoration Private Walking Tour

Get into the Christmas magic with this exceptional walking tour. Your itinerary will start at the Grands Magasins, where you will discover what makes Christmas in Paris so special: food, wine and decorations. We’ll enter into a paradise of gourmet connoisseurs for an oyster and white wine tasting. Next, we’ll discover the best of Christmas foods all in one place (cheese, salmon, caviar, foie gras, chocolate, gingerbread and more).

After the tasting, you will admire the Christmas lights, decorations and trees in the stores. We’ll continue our walk to Madeleine where we’ll see the church as well as numerous gourmet shops.

Finally, we will take the little streets and passages, full of Christmas lights and decorations until we reach one of Paris’ best wine bars for a foie gras and champagne tasting!

Where to Stay in Paris During the Winter

hotel san regis christmas

To maximize your holiday spirit and experience in Paris during the winter we recommend staying in the heart of the city. The five-star Hotel San Régis is located just off of the Champs-Elysées and close to the Arc de Triomphe. You’ll have the best of Paris during the holidays at your fingertips with incredible access to Christmas markets, lights and decorations, shopping and more. After a long day, wind down with a drink at the bar or stroll the adjacent Avenue Montaigne to take in the impressive holiday displays.

For interior design fanatics, the 5-star Château Voltaire is a dream. The hotel is a tribute to the Parisian art de vivre. Three buildings dating from from the 17th and 18th centuries were combined to create the hotel. You’ll be steps away from the gorgeous Palais Garnier opera house, lively Jardin des Tuileries, and sophisticated shopping on Place Vendôme.

chateau voltaire hotel paris
© Romeo Ballancourt

Ready to visit Paris in the winter? There’s still time to plan a trip for this year! Our travel designers are standing by to create a tailor-made itinerary just for you.

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